Event planning is tough, especially if you’re a small-staff association professional with limited time and resources. There’s SO much to keep track of: budgets, registrations, volunteers - the list goes on and on.
So how can you keep up with ALL that without losing your sanity? Is it possible? Where do you even begin?!
We understand the process can be overwhelming, so to help you out, we’ve put together a list of best practices to take before, during, and after your event. Check it out!
Before your event…
- Acquire sponsors - Events are expensive - that’s no secret. To help with the costs, consider reaching out to other companies within your industry and asking if they’d be interested in sponsoring your event. Associations, like your own, provide industries with value (and more importantly, exposure), so many companies are willing to pitch in. To generate interest in an event partnership, consider putting together an event sponsorship package, providing a list of sponsor benefits, and/or posting information on your association’s website.
- Determine a registration process - You put a lot of time and effort into planning your event, so you want people to attend, right? Of course you do! One of the best ways to boost registration rates is to offer a seamless and all-encompassing registration process. No one wants to mail in their event registration - they want to do it online. That said, make sure you have an online registration system in place. (And one that’s mobile-friendly, at that.)
- Promote heavily - Regardless of how great your speaker or entertainment line-up is, you still need publicity to get people in the door. To promote your organization’s event, consider emailing your members/prospects, creating a web page specifically for your event, and utilizing social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, especially).
During your event…
- Make sure your team members and volunteers know where to go - The ‘day of’ is always stressful, so to minimize chaos, make sure all of your team members and volunteers know exactly where to go. Everyone should have a “job” (or several jobs) and a particular “spot” to be in.
- Mingle with your members - We know hosting an event can be overwhelming, but this is a great opportunity to engage with your organization’s membership. Don’t let it pass you by! Walk around. Shake hands. Engage in conversation. You worked hard to plan this event, so do your best to make the most of it.
- Stay calm - If something goes wrong at your event, don’t panic. This happens to everyone. You just have to go with the flow. That said, to minimize problems and panic-levels, make sure you have the contact information of everyone helping out. This includes staff members, volunteers, caterers, hotel managers, etc. That way, if something does go wrong, you know exactly who to reach and how.
After your event…
- Collect feedback - After all that hard work, you want to know how your event went, right? Of course! So to gather feedback, consider placing comment cards on tables at your event, posting a survey on your organization’s website, and/or emailing post-event surveys directly to your attendees.
- Thank your sponsors and volunteers - This one’s a biggie. Without the help of your sponsors and volunteers, your event wouldn’t have been possible. To show your appreciation, try sending out hand-written thank you notes. If you can’t put together enough notes in a reasonable amount of time, give your sponsors and volunteers a call. Just remember, the more personal the “thank you,” the better.
- Follow up with non-member attendees - If you had any non-members attend your event, this is the perfect opportunity to follow up with them. How do you know if you had any non-members attend your event? Well, if you used an association management system to check people in, you can easily pull up your registration list and filter it by non-member attendees. Then from there, you can email those people and encourage them to join your organization.
Now this is just an overview of event planning best practices. But trust us, there’s PLENTY more where that came from. For a full breakdown of event planning tips and tricks, check out our Complete Guide to Association Event Planning below!